Kanyashree Prakalpa

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“Kanyashree Prakalpa” (Kanya means daughter, Shree means prosperity) is a unique end-to-end ICT driven Conditional Cash Transfer programme- aims at improving lives of millions of adolescent girls having poor socioeconomic background through Educational, Social, Financial & Digital Empowerment. It has so far changed lives of 4.2 mn adolescent Girls in 4 years.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Each day, marriage of girls below the age of 18 affects more than 41,000 girls globally. Almost half the world’s child brides live in South Asia. While India ranks as 12th in international rankings, in absolute terms the country has the highest number of child brides in the world. (UNICEF, 2014). Situation in West Bengal, one of the most populous states in India, child marriage continues to be a norm even a decade after India enacted the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006. The state has an adolescent female population of 6.1 million (Census 2011), and ranked fifth highest in the country when it came to the prevalence of child marriage, with almost every second girl a child bride (54.7%).

Although surveys show that there is a downward trend in prevalence over the last few decades, the decline is very slow and has a grossly negative impact on development. Once, Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006 enacted, the Dept of Women Development and Social Welfare and Child Development (DWCD), Govt of West Bengal saturated the state with anti-child marriage campaigns spreading the message of prevention, and endorsing enforcement of the law and its penal provisions for adults aiding and abetting child marriage. However, it quickly became evident that legal prohibition and social messaging are largely ineffective in addressing child marriage. For one, India’s multiplicity of formal and religious laws complicates the issue of what constitutes the ‘appropriate’ age of marriage for girls. Secondly, discriminatory attitudes towards the girl child, socio-cultural norms and poverty combine to perpetuate child marriages in West Bengal.

Under this circumstances, Govt of West Bengal, India, launched “Kanyashree Prakalpa” in October, 2013. Recent study reports of World Bank also corroborate the rationale of “Kanyashree” as it predicted the economic cost of child marriage is pretty high & globally, by 2030, gains in well-being for populations from lower population growth could reach more than $500 billion annually.

The core objectives of Kanyashree Programme are simple and focused- it aims to ensure that girls stay in school and delay their marriages till at least age 18. It uses a social safety net mechanism that has shown a high degree of success in transforming the lives of children and adolescents in several countries in the world. It has two conditional cash transfer (CCT) components:

I. The first is an annual incentive of INR 750/- to the girls in the age group 13 to 18 years (studying in Class VIII equivalent or above) for every year that they remained in education, provided they are unmarried at the time.

II. The second is a One-Time Grant of INR 25,000/-, to be paid after a girl turns 18 but before she reaches age 19, provided that she is engaged in an academic or vocational pursuit and is unmarried at that time. The term ‘education’ encompasses secondary and higher secondary education, as well as the various vocational, technical and sports courses available for this age group. Given that children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families are more vulnerable to child marriage, the programme is open only to girls from families whose annual income is INR 1,20,000/- or less. For girls with special needs, orphans and girls in Children’s Homes the income criterion is waived. Girls with special needs, but in a class below class VIII, are also eligible for the annual scholarship.

To reinforce the positive impact of increased education and delayed marriages, the programme also works to enhance the social power and self-esteem of girls through a targeted behaviour change communication strategy including adolescent-friendly approaches like events, competitions and Kanyashree clubs, and the endorsement by strong women figures as role models to promote social and psychological empowerment.

The service delivery under Kanyashree has been mandated to be completed within a stipulated time period under West Bengal Right To Public Services Act. Because of the Scheme’s goal of empowerment of girls through eradication of child marriage and promotion of education for girls, it directly contributes to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 10. E-Governance, convergence and partnerships in implementation contribute to SDG 9, 16 and 17. The impact of the Scheme is proposed to be further strengthened through the scheme’s graduation strategy, which is being designed to ensure stronger inclusion of out-of-school adolescent girls in the Kanyashree CCT component, career counseling and financial literacy programs, parental counseling, and facilitation of beneficiaries’ transition from secondary to tertiary education so that they may graduate into sustainable livelihoods and employment.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

  1. This is an inspiring initiative and will have huge benefits for the whole country if scaled.

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Year: 2013
Level of government: National/Federal government


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